Arrival in the South Shetland Islands (62°24´S)

Trip Start Feb 04, 2010
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Trip End Feb 12, 2011


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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our first landing in Antarctic waters was on Barrientos Island, a member of the Aitcho Islands within the South Shetland Island group.  This island was home to two types of penguin breeding grounds or 'rookeries': the Gentoo Penguin (black head with white band above the eyes) and the Chinstrap Penguin (easily identifiable by its black 'chinstrap' feather markings).  Most chicks were between four and five weeks old and were meticulously watched over by a protective parent to shelter them from the Skua birds who were circling the rookeries, hoping to dine on a vulnerable chick.

After walking across moss and lichen covered rocks to arrive at a small glacier melt freshwater lake, we found molting Southern Elephant Seals sprawled across the rocky shore.  Nearby, Antarctic Fur Seals (sea lions) and a lone Weddell Seal lounged below the Southern Giant Petrel nests.  There are six species of seals roaming the Antarctic, but only four inhabit the icy waters surrounding the continent: Elephant, Weddell, Crabeater and Leopard seals.  The three hours on land sped by and we were keen to continue exploring at our next landing later the same day. 
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Comments

millie on

They are so cute!.must have been thrill to see albatros & condors!!
You,re up one on me. So interesting to read

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